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Essay: Critically analyse & discuss conferences as a component of corporate events in London

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  • Critically analyse & discuss conferences as a component of corporate events in London
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Introduction

Events are different in terms of their size and the impact they have on a business and the community at large (Getz, 2013). They are categorised based on their type or sector such as public, association, sporting, and business or corporate events among others. The business or corporate events can be further subdivided into meetings, corporate hospitality, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Tripathi et al., 2017). According to Rogers (2013), conferences are assemblies of people who share information, discuss and also agree on various decisions. Conferences date back to a long time ago despite the fact that the sector has been identified recently. Hawkins et al., (2014) state that the industry consists of various stakeholders such as conference organisers, suppliers or contractors, venues and also the government. The purpose of this report is to critically analyse and discuss conferences as a component of corporate events in London.

Historical Overview

Getz (2013) defines meeting and conferences events as the assembly of people in a bid to exchange information, discuss, and agree on decisions. They are also aimed at the obdurate promotion of education and building of relationships among various stakeholders (Solomon & Soltes, 2015). The meeting and conferences events may be held alone or coupled with other events. On the other hand, exhibitions, expositions and fairs are events that bring buyers and sellers together with other interested parties with the aim of viewing and selling of products and services (Raj et al., 2017). These may be sold to a specific industry or the general public and may also be held alone or with other events.

The development of events has been influenced by different local and national events, ceremonies and traditions since a long time ago (Dodds, 2014). Various events have taken one form or another including fairs, festivals, sporting events, exhibitions among other public celebrations (Masterman, 2014). The current exhibition industry in the UK traced its roots to 1760 and 1791 when exhibitions were held by the Royal Society of Arts and resulted in the Great Exhibition that was held in 1851 (Spiller, 2014). The exhibition had more than 6 million visitors and was established to be a tremendous promotional tool due to its generation of profits. As a result, many exhibition facilities were developed.

The United Kingdom is known for holding various sporting events which originated in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first sporting event held was the Royal Ascot (1711) and has been followed by different events such as Cambridge Boat Ride, FA Cup and the Open Championship (Masterman, 2014). The development and forces of Christianity and industrialisation led to the loss of the traditional festivities and folklore (Mair, 2013). The events industry was born from the commercialisation of great celebrations and a change in the purpose of fairs to include the primary reason of enjoyment. Whitfield et al. (2014) report that industrialisation led to a lot of engagement in work which made people too tired to celebrate. However, a commercial celebration made it possible for people to derive pleasure without interfering with their work.

The development of the conference industry dates back to political and religious congresses coupled with conferences by trade and professional associations in America back in 19th century (Johnston, 2014). The recognition of the conference industry was done in the middle and the latter part of the 20th century which makes it a recent development (Walker, 2016). The primary developments for conferences included public halls, churches, market towns and guildhalls followed by inns and coffee houses, assembly rooms, town halls and universities (Chon & Weber, 2014). The terminal phase of development of conferences was the growth of specialists banqueting and creation of assembly facilities for meetings.

It is vital to note that some leading exhibitions date back to early 20th century as shown by the British Industries Fair in 1915 at London (Mok et al., 2013). The promotion of famous celebration was advanced after the world wars, and the arts festivals became a prominent feature of the nation. Britain had lost the lead for staging international exhibitions, and the lack of quality exhibition space was established as the primary cause of the problem (Ashworth & Larkham, 2013). The concentrated social summer season has also led to the development of the corporate entertainment and hospitality. Corporate hospitality began with the Open Golf Championship, and it was characterised by the sale of incentive packages followed by entertainment services (Smith, 2014). Festivals and major events were therefore born and provide visitors, encourage commercial sponsorship and present the cultural experiences.

PESTEL Analysis of Conference in London

A PESTEL analysis is done to determine the favorability of the circumstances of a firm by evaluating the political, economic, social and technological aspects (Beard, and Russ, 2017). London is based on the parliamentary system of the leadership of the UK which is fair and a stable country with great opportunities (Quintano, 2015). The positive political factors influencing the conferencing industry is that the public is in an excellent position to influence the operations. Also, a proactive government and politically stable environment create ample opportunities for the function of the conference’s industry (Suklev et al. 2018). However, the presence of some well-hidden corruption in London and the uncertainty of the Brexit decision pose a challenge to the operations of the conference in the events industry.

The main economic factors enhancing the conference industry is the fact that London has a large population which provides an adequate market. Also, the presence of a free market and increasing foreign direct investment in the nation also positively contribute to the growth of conference industry (Berridge, 2015). The economic recession of 2008/2009 and spending lots of money in free public services affects the stability of the conference industry (Quintano, 2015). The social factors that positively influence the growth of the conference sector include the presence of free public services, dense population, high standards of living and availability of a cheap workforce. Social unrest from migration issues and the high education costs could affect the inflow of employees in the conferencing industry (Getz, 2017).

London has excellent access to technology which makes it favorable for conferencing sector which utilises a lot of technology. The technology facilitates the development of quality innovation skills, expertise in science and information technology which are suitable for the conferencing sector (Suklev et al. 2018). The presence of effective laws for intellectual technology enhances the conferencing sector by facilitating copyright of innovation (Herrmann-Pillath, and Boldyrev, 2014). However, London’s technological development is slow, unlike the United States which poses a competition.

SWOT Analysis of Conferences in London

There are various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the development of conference industry in London. There is adequate ease of access to the city of London and quality and variety of venues which facilitate the success of the conferencing industry (Yoopetch, and Mingkwan, 2016). Good infrastructure, high standards of services coupled with the cultural attractiveness of the city and the festivals held in London are all strengths to the conferencing sector. However, there are also weaknesses facing the establishment of the conferencing sector. The venues and accommodation in London are expensive (Robinson et al. 2016). Exhibition and banqueting space is also limited in addition to the limited growth of the city compared to cities in the United States.

Opportunities for growth of the conferencing sector include the development of new partnerships and the development of venues and hotels out with center. There are also renowned attractions in London in addition to the linkage of the city with North America by air (Wong and Lee, 2016). The growth of London’s economy is also an opportunity for growth of the conferencing sector. Threats include developed competitor destinations forging ahead, the lack of long-term funding for the business and even fragmentation of the economy (Hussain et al. 2017). Support to the industry is also a threat to the conferencing sector in London and is also impacted by the focus of leisure tourism.

Stakeholders

There are various stakeholders involved in the conferencing industry who perform multiple roles for the success of the industry. The conference organisations are concerned with the hosting and staging of events with other stakeholders. They organise for the establishment and planning of conferences. Also, the organisations develop content regarding any plans for conferences laid out (Brunt, Horner, and Semley, 2017). Also, the conference organisations outsource to external individuals who can facilitate the conferences. The conference management companies are composed of groups of individuals who organise meetings on behalf of clients on a contract basis (Martín, Román, and Gonzaga, 2017). The companies are hired to provide services on behalf of clients based on a contract. The companies ensure the success of conferences on behalf of the client and everything is for the interest of the clients (Shipway et al. 2016).

Conference sector suppliers or contractors also make part of the stakeholders in the industry. These include people who provide staging, light, and production to the conference sector. The suppliers or contractors also offer services ranging from transport and security to catering and parking services (Kim, and Cuskelly, 2017). Another stakeholder requirement for the conference industry is the availability of venues. These range from hotels, conference centers to exhibition facilities and showgrounds. Conferences require ample places that facilitate maximum benefit for all the people involved. Moreover, the emergence of video conferencing as a new strategy in the industry is also an important consideration.

The government is also a stakeholder in the industry and plays a significant role in regulating business operations and ensuring the creation of a conducive environment for operations. Another stakeholder in the conferencing industry is the industry association which entails the bonds developed with different sectors (Cerutti, & Piva, 2015). Inter-sectorial collaboration is vital to enhance the success of the any given industry. Trade and professionals associations are available and help in the development of professionalism, standards and best practices in the events industry (Colombo, 2016). For instance, associations may be developed between the conference and meeting sectors which lead to the enhanced achievement of the goals of the two industries.

Human Resource Management Implications for the Industry and Employment Opportunities

The conferences and meetings sector has a cyclical nature and is prone to various changes within and outside the sector. The fact that it is a new and developing sector implies that it is open to the creation of many job opportunities (Nickson, 2013). Many people are now observing the advantages of conferencing and its contribution to the economy which attracts them to invest in the sector. As a result, many people in London have been attracted to the sector based on the available job opportunities (Boella, & Goss-Turner, 2013). The collaboration with the tourism sector has made it easy to identify gaps and the need to develop such a non-recreational tourism business venture. Job creation raises the standards of living of the employees and contributes to the welfare of London residents at large.

Global recessions and slowdowns adversely affect the sector which calls for the need to implement strategies to address such challenges (Jones & Jones, 2014). One of the human resource factors affecting human resource management in the conferencing sector is the low rates of pay and the need to improve the terms and conditions of employment. Staff recruitment and retention is a significant challenge as human beings are always seeking better pastures which interfere with the continuity of services (Gration et al. 2016). Career progression is also a critical factor as employees expect advancement in education which may not be possible due to low returns of the sector (Brown, 2014). Compensation for employees also poses significant challenges in the conferences sector due to the need to maximise profits and minimise expenditure. Technology has also largely impacted the human resource department in London as it demands constant training of personnel which may not be realistic (Pernecky, 2016). Also, the fear that changes in technology could threaten the employment of some people also makes them unstable in the workplace.

Impact of Technology in the Conference Sector

Change is one of the constant things in the society and the conference sectors not left behind, Technology is a tool for the achievement of change, and the sector utilises it in diverse ways to enhance productivity. Conferences and meetings are breaking up from the traditional practice and embracing new technologies in production and delivery of services (Rojek, 2014). The conference sector is in a period of transition courtesy to the recent technological advancements.

Technology is enhancing the flexibility of conferences which facilitates the transition from the traditional practices. The conventional approach involved the confinement of people in a room for quite a long time (Storme et al., 2017). Technology, therefore, makes it easy for the conference time to be shortened while maximising the impact on the customers (Goldblatt, 2016). It is true that the attention span of people is becoming shorter which calls upon the conference sector to employ technology in enhancing flexibility.

Conference centers have also been significantly changed by technology. Nowadays people do not see a conference center as just room where a conference should take place but also put into consideration the whole city as a venue (Robinson et al., 2016). People make use of technology to learn more about the venue of a meeting and plan ahead on the experiences they wish to encounter at the host city. Technology has also highly enhanced networking in the conferencing industry and enabled investors to interact with people from diverse backgrounds (Marques and Santos, 2017). Sharing of ideas has therefore been made easy with technology thus expanding the conference sector.

Marketing Strategies Used Within the Conference Sector

Appropriate marketing is essential for the conference sector as it attracts customers and enhances profits. It is vital to follow diverse marketing strategies following a timeline and logical sequence to achieve maximum results (Cudny, 2018). One of the main marketing strategies in conference sector is the creation of a pre-event page. The page aims to enhance the interest of people in the conference and motivate them to attend even when all the plans are not yet complete (Leszczynski, and Zielinski, 2015). The strategy could also involve providing a super-early bird incentive for the people who register early thus capturing more interest.

The pre-event marketing strategy is then extended to a blog post where an explanation is done on the upcoming event. The conference organiser establishes the mission of the conference to attract people to the event. Development of the mission statement helps rally more people to the conference and convince them to attend (Rogerson, 2015). Partner outreach is another effective strategy for marketing in the conference sector. It involves liaising with other people in the sector to advertise an upcoming conference. As mentioned early, the formation of collaborations is critical to the success of conferences which also applies in marketing (Wei, 2017). An organiser is therefore supposed to reach out to the potential collaborators and media partners early to enable the spread of the word on the event.

Social media marketing is also a critical marketing strategy in conference sector. Social media is one of the keys and fast approaches to marketing and facilitates the spread of information to diverse populations (Scott et al. 2018). Social media marketing creates momentum for an upcoming conference and attracts individuals to attend the event. An event hashtag is also created in a bid to attract maximum traffic hence increasing the odds of achieving maximum attendance to the conference (Pike, 2015). The leading social media avenues used in conference marketing are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Economic Impact of the Conference Sector & Impact of the Current Financial Situation in the Conference Sector

The conference sector affects the economy, and it is also influenced by the economic trends. Conference sector provides diverse revenue to London from the meeting organisations and the venues for the meetings. The individuals pay for the attendance to the conference and also the costs of the venues (Falk, and Hagsten, 2018). The government generates revenue from taxes levied on the conference sector. Also, the conference sector has employed many people not only in London but also throughout the United Kingdom. Many job opportunities have been created in the conference sector which has facilitated an increase in the income of the residents.

The employment creation has facilitated the raising of the living standards of London residents (Mair, Lockstone-Binney, and Whitelaw, 2018). The conference sector also contributes to the economy through direct spending in which the individuals attending conferences spend and contribute to the economy. It is estimated that around 40billion euros were spend by meeting attendees in 2011 which directly contributes to the economy. The spending was made in terms of registration, car hiring, shopping, transport and petrol among other commodities.

The economy also affects the implementation of conference activities by influencing the conference activities. A stable economy creates a favorable environment for the operations of the conference industry (Hahm, et al. 2016). Businesses tend to thrive when there are conducive conditions that enhance their operations. The presence of a stable environment for business makes it easy for other sectors to thrive including the conferencing sector (Sox et al. 2017). A stable economy enhances the welfare of its citizens which makes it easy to promote other sectors such as the conference industry. People with high standards of living will find it easy to engage in conferences as they have extra money to spare.

Future Development and Opportunities for the Conference Sector

There are various things likely to happen in the conference industry in the future. The world is rapidly evolving which implies that there is a lot that will be impacted by the current changes. Research is one of the critical things that will impact the future of conferences by highlighting diverse strategies for approaching conferences (Lin, Jiang, and Kerstetter, 2015). The research will develop innovations that will enhance the field of conferences and also suggest the elimination of the redundant practices (Thomas, and Ollstein, 2015). The research will, therefore, make a significant contribution through the provision of support and suggestions for the conference sector.

The conference industry will also be significantly influenced by globalisation and internalisation which make the world a global village. The conference sector investors will be able to interact with other people globally hence widening their market and increasing their returns (Wang et al. 2014). Mobility in the future will also be enhanced in London thus improving long-distance trading. Technology in work and life is also expected to raise significantly easing communication and other operations in the conference industry (Cudny, 2018). Moreover, it is also anticipated that architecture will largely change to accommodate the elderly populations, facilitate the permanent use of buildings and also create a healthy and feel good atmosphere for conferences.

Conclusion

The conference industry is one of the sectors that can positively impact the economy of the society. London is well suited to accommodate the sector and enhance the growth of the economy. The various stakeholders should come together to ensure that the sector thrives to its maximum and all the objectives are achieved. Technology has facilitated the transition from the traditional methods of conferencing, and it is anticipated that everything will change with time. It has also made it easier to work with people away from the United Kingdom hence expanding the base of the sector. The industry is likely to make lots of developments in the future hence efforts should be made to facilitate a smooth transition and the expansion of the conference sector.

2.4.2018

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